Special Collections

Sold on 6 July 2004

1 part


Prize, Training Ship, Nursing & Other Medals from the James N. Spencer Collection

James N Spencer

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№ 953


6 July 2004

Hammer Price:

Marine Society Reward of Merit (4), Britannia holding the hand of a young sailor, ‘Marine Society Instituted MDCCLVI’, in exergue, ‘Incorporated MDCCLXXII’; reverse: a wreath of rose, thistle and shamrock enclosing inscription (name engraved), ‘Reward of Merit to John Rivett’, 47mm., silver, thin straight bar swivel suspension; another similar, name engraved on raised crescent, ‘John Reed’, 42mm.; another similar, without crescent, ‘Alfred B. Govett, 1st Septr. 1910’, swivel ring suspension; another similar, ‘G. H. V. Kelley, 7.9.1920’, good very fine (4) £100-150

The Marine Society was instituted in 1756, at the start of the Seven Years War, by Fowler Walker, Sir John Fielding and Jonas Hanway. Its aim was to encourage poor men and boys to join the Royal and Merchant navies. In this it was successful, and by the end of the war in 1764, it had recruited 5,451 men and 5,174 boys for service at sea. Incorporated by Act of Parliament in 1772 to apprentice poor boys to the Royal and Merchant navies; it clothed them and provided them with an education suitable for their future employment. In 1783, Hanway published a paper promulgating the establishment of schools in every seaport for the training of boys for the sea. So large a concept was beyond the means of the Society but it led the way and in 1786 it commissioned the first pre-sea training ship, the Beatty, a sloop which housed 30 boys together with a superintendent, mate, schoolmaster, boatswain and cook. In later years, other organizations followed their example. By 1940, when the Society’s training ship Warspite was broken up, the Society had trained and equipped some 36,000 boys for the Royal Navy and just under 35,000 for the Merchant Navy. Over the years, the Society was influential in the formation of several related organizations, including The Seamen’s Hospital Society, Sail Training Association, Nautical Institute and Sea Cadet Corps. In 1976 the Marine Society merged with a number of other related charities: The Sailors’ Home and Red Ensign Club (estab. 1830), The London School of Nautical Cookery (estab. 1893), The Incorporated Thames Nautical Training Trust (H.M.S. Worcester) (estab. 1862), The Seafarers Education Service (estab. 1919), College at Sea (estab. 1938), The Merchant Navy Comforts Service Trust (estab. 1940) and the British Ship Adoption Society (estab. 1936). The Society continues to this day as a charity supporting maritime youth organizations. See also lot 965 for the Marine Society’s Medal for the training ship Warspite.